Pedagogical Use of Virtual Reality in Clinical Nursing and Healthcare Education

A W Y Chan, K K M Cheung, K F Wong, S W L Yau and V M H Lau
The Open University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong SAR, China

This paper addresses the development and application of virtual reality (VR) training facilities in clinical nursing and healthcare education in the Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK).

For creating more advanced learning environments for nursing students, one of the challenges is to understand the pedagogical underpinning that should inform the design and use of this VR system, including knowledge of anatomy and physiology; communication/assessment skills; and mental health caring skills. It is essential for students to deliver healthcare services in the hospitals and the community. VR is a computer technology that replicates an environment, real or imagined, and simulates a studentís physical presence in that environment in a way that allows the student to interact with it. The use of VR facilities in clinical nursing and healthcare education includes 3D models and immersive VR.

The OUHK has employed the pedagogy of using a VR in the nursing education curriculum since 2015. One of the lecture theatres in the University had installed the VR system so that 3D models could be projected and be seen by wearing 3D spectacles. In November 2015, the VR system was used in anatomy and physiology courses for nursing students. The demonstration of different dissections of the human body systems could be clearly shown in the 3D models; and students could have an immersive experience, with a realistic sense of attending dissection classes.

The immersive VR system was installed in the Virtual Reality Education Unit in the Clinical Nursing Education Centre at the OUHK. A student can enter the virtual world when wearing a VR headset. The immersive environment can be similar to the real world, creating a life-like experience. Programmes are specially designed for learning therapeutic nursing, including communication skills which are essential in clinical nursing practice.

The tailor-made pedagogical use of VR can provide nursing students with clear visualization and realistic images which can enhance their understanding of the course content. The attractive 3D models and virtual world experience can also arouse studentsí interest in learning, as well as enhance their integrated skills competency.